A Wagner heir has died, at 71

A Wagner heir has died, at 71


norman lebrecht

January 09, 2014

Iris Wagner, eldest daughter of Wieland, disenfranchised by her uncle Wolfgang, has died, too soon, at 71.

Unlike most Wagners, she made a life for herself away from music and Bayreuth. Iris was the distinguished translator into German of the letters of Sylvia Plath and the later novels of Doris Lessing. Living in Berlin, Iris was also a photographer and film maker.

She had little to say about her great-grandfather, or about Bayreuth. Her only published comment: ‘I’m ashamed of it. Bayreuth burns in every nook and cranny.’

iris wagner

UPDATE: The FAZ has piblished an appreciaiton of Iris Wagner here.


  • Michael says:

    “Es brennt an allen Ecken und Enden” is not easy to translate, but it means (more or less) “there are problems everywhere and things are getting worse.” Mostly she was (in the article) criticizing the Bayreuth plans for the cafe at Wagner’s grave, and the proposed ideas for the Siegfried Wagner house (i.e. not the documentary center about family involvement with the Nazis etc., which had been on the radar), as well as the current regime etc. It is rather a pity that the Wagner year brought no developments as far as themuseum in Bayreuth is concerned.

  • Rich ironies in her comment that she is “deeply ashamed” of Bayreuth, but is referring only to its current administration…

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Nothing ironic there. She was not involved in previous administrations; she felt ashamed about some of the stupid stuff that was going on during the time she was involved in the current one.

      But why should she have been ashamed about stuff that was going on previously and that she had nothing to do with?

  • Simon says:

    Nevertheless, she fought (unsuccessfully) for a full disclosure of the family archives concerning the Nazi past.

  • Much light is shed on the Wagner family by an absorbing chronicle “The Wagner Clan” by Jonathan Carr.